Complete your registration today for a chance to win £50 John Lewis vouchers in our weekly draw Enter now
Fund Profile

Aberforth Smaller Companies 01 December 2023

Disclaimer

This is a non-independent marketing communication commissioned by Aberforth Partners LLP. The report has not been prepared in accordance with legal requirements designed to promote the independence of investment research and is not subject to any prohibition on the dealing ahead of the dissemination of investment research.

Overview
ASL’s value approach is well placed to capture the potential of a new market era…
Overview

Aberforth Smaller Companies (ASL) owns a portfolio of companies from the bottom 10% of the UK market-cap spectrum. It is run by a management team of seven who have a well-disciplined process that is based around a bottom-up stock-selection approach with a value focus, which leads to a Portfolio that is highly differentiated from the benchmark and the peer group.

The differentiation has led to strong relative performance over the near term, driven primarily by the managers’ stock selection and supported by the tailwind of the value investing style. The trust has more than doubled the sector average return over the past three years. Despite this, the managers believe valuations remain very compelling, with what they describe as a quadruple discount (see Performance). This opportunity is increasingly being recognised by some investors, with M&A continuing to be an important factor in markets. The managers continue to engage with their holdings to ensure they get the best possible outcome for shareholders.

Despite the strong performance, the trust has slipped to a wide Discount, along with much of the peer group. The managers have been active in taking advantage of the wide discount by continuing to buy back shares for cancellation.

Whilst not the primary goal for the trust, the managers have delivered another period of Dividend growth that has kept up with inflation, despite the challenging target. The dividend is also supported by strong revenue reserves, meaning the growth should arguably continue. At 3.1%, based on ordinary dividends, the yield is now substantial and another potential indicator of the attractive valuations.

Analyst's View

The performance of ASL has been excellent over the past three years. In this period, the managers’ investment style has become more in favour, which has been a tailwind and has led to strong medium-term outperformance versus both the benchmark and peer group. We believe there is a strong argument that this new era for value investing can continue as higher interest rates persist. Despite this encouraging outlook, valuations look particularly compelling at present, especially so in ASL’s portfolio in our opinion. This is beginning to be recognised but could still offer an attractive entry point for long-term investors (see Performance).

The pickup in M&A is one sign of this value being recognised and we believe the trust is well placed to capture this, due to the value strategy. The majority of the corporate activity has occurred in companies on lower valuations, and ASL’s average company is on a lower multiple still. This, in our opinion, demonstrates strong upside potential in the portfolio, bolstered by the managers’ history of rejecting bids they don’t believe reflect the true value of their holdings (see Portfolio).

We believe the opportunity is amplified by the current Discount on the trust. Despite being one of the top performers in the peer group, the discount has widened out as sentiment has hit the whole sector. This could offer investors an opportunity to capture the considerable value on offer at a very compelling discount.

Bull

  • Valuation focus has benefitted from a higher interest rate environment
  • Trust trades at a wide discount to NAV
  • Trust has delivered inflation-beating dividend growth

Bear

  • Overweight position in cyclical industries could be exposed in an economic downturn
  • Small-cap focus could increase sensitivity if market falters
  • Gearing has increased and can amplify losses as well as bolster returns
Continue to Portfolio

Fund History

10 Jan 2024 Definitely maybe
Fund flows and discounts may shed some light on a once-in-a-generation opportunity…
13 Dec 2023 In-come all ye faithful
Equity income could be a beneficiary of the higher interest environment, with trusts a good way to capture it…
01 Dec 2023 Fund Analysis
ASL’s value approach is well placed to capture the potential of a new market era…
16 Aug 2023 Time to take the plunge
UK smaller companies have historically outperformed after every fall. Is this the moment to brave the uncertainty..?
09 Jun 2023 Fund Analysis
ASL’s value style has boosted performance, but valuations remain very low, and M&A could spark a further lift…
19 May 2023 More UK M&A
The bids keep coming, the valuations stay low…
06 Apr 2023 Fallen Kingdom?
Since the UK was described as a ‘Jurassic Park’ stock market, it has outperformed. Is this a new age for the stock market..?
18 Jan 2023 Fortune favours the brave
Our research suggests a recession has already been priced into small cap trusts, but risks abound...
30 Nov 2022 Fund Analysis
ASL has outperformed since the vaccine rally, and its cheap portfolio valuations have historically led to strong returns…
10 Aug 2022 Get ‘em while they’re hot
Wide discounts in the UK Smaller Companies sector may present long term investors with good entry opportunities…
25 May 2022 Fund Analysis
ASL is benefitting from a market environment which favours value over growth…
11 May 2022 Catch a tiger by the tail
As inflation bites harder than it has for decades, we consider the best ways for investors to hang on to their capital...
27 Apr 2022 Finding value in a haystack
Non-income value strategies are becoming increasingly scarce, but the holdouts represent attractive near-term opportunities…
17 Nov 2021 Fund Analysis
ASL has had an excellent period of performance in the reflationary rally of the past year…
30 Jun 2021 Inflation – a real threat or hot air?
Two of our analysts ask whether recent high inflation numbers indicate something long-lasting and troubling is happening…
26 May 2021 Fund Analysis
Despite a strong rally, ASL’s portfolio retains significant upside to fair value...
24 Mar 2021 Shoot to Thrill: ISA targets for long term growth
We all intend to invest for the long-term but can often be distracted by the news...
10 Feb 2021 Eye of the Pfizer
Mining shares have rallied in recent months. With further potential, what impact could this have on the relative returns of active UK Small cap strategies...
26 Nov 2020 Fund Analysis
ASL offers exposure to a cyclical rebound post-vaccine from a deeply discounted portfolio…
25 Nov 2020 Britannia Redux?
UK equities have been despised for almost five years and could offer extreme rebound potential…
17 Sep 2020 Five small cap trusts on very wide discounts
The UK Smaller Companies Sector is battered and bruised, but bombed out valuations among trusts in the sector look interesting...
28 May 2020 Fund Analysis
ASL offers exciting return potential from its current extreme levels of valuation…
06 May 2020 The fight in the dog
We look at the characteristics which have separated the winners from the losers among small-cap trusts in the current crisis, with some surprising results...
15 Apr 2020 Hold fast
Investment trusts' revenue reserves could make them a vital stronghold for investors facing UK dividend cuts of as much as 47%....
03 Dec 2019 Fund Analysis
ASL’s portfolio is on a deep discount to the market, with signs of a turnaround in performance…
06 Nov 2019 Times are a changin'? The case for a value resurgence
We are in the midst of the longest period of value underperformance since the 1920s. Could we be approaching a change in environment?
01 Aug 2019 Rethinking UK equity income
Despite being a popular allocation for investors, the UK Equity Income sector is currently plagued by the problem of concentration. Our analysis suggests smaller companies could be a strong alternative source of diversified income…
30 Apr 2019 Fund Analysis
Aberforth Smaller Companies (ASL) is the only UK smaller companies trust with an unambiguous value approach, barring its income-focused sister Aberforth Split Level Income...
27 Mar 2019 NEVeR MiND tHE B*LL*CKS
We cut through the histrionics and discover, with surprising results, what life has really been like for British investors since David Cameron put it to 'the people'....
19 Sep 2018 Artificial Alpha
While there are some signs that we may be finally seeing the froth come off the growth-led market, we think investors need to be highly selective in choosing value strategies...
27 Jun 2018 A winning combination
New research from Cass Business school helps explain why closed-ended funds have outperformed their open-ended peers in the major equity sectors since 2000...
19 Jun 2018 Fund Analysis
Aberforth Smaller Companies (ASCoT) is the only UK smaller companies trust with an unambiguous value approach...
19 Jun 2018 Pretty little things
Many smaller companies managers have been shifting into micro caps in 2018, should investors be following suit?
29 Jan 2018 What lies beneath
Following our research last year, we analyse the correlation between the performance of value stocks and bond yields and how many investors are unprepared for a change to the status quo...
29 Jan 2018 Fund Analysis
A value-focused UK small-cap portfolio run by one of the most experienced small-caps teams in the business...
25 Oct 2017 Patience is a virtue…
We analyse the outperformance of UK small-caps and why it has been so important to take a long-term view...
13 Sep 2017 Big Issue(rs)
We highlight the UK equity trusts that have issued and bought back the most shares over the course of 2017 so far and how these actions have affected shareholders...
12 Jun 2017 MAYDAY!
As the Conservative party founders, we examine the impact of last week’s disastrous election on trusts...
25 May 2017 An opportunity in UK small-caps?
We round up recent recommendations, results and analysis of the latest developments in the UK small-cap sector...
04 May 2017 Size matters
We highlight the potential liquidity and capacity constraints that could hinder open-ended UK smaller companies funds...
03 May 2017 Fund Analysis
A UK small-cap trust with strong value tilt, a highly experienced management team and a long track record of outperformance...
30 Jan 2017 Analyst roundup
An ‘excellent result’ for shareholders in Alliance Trust, and a mixed bag for Aberforth Smaller Companies...
26 Jan 2017 Value: The dawn of a new era?
Amid much speculation that the 'value' style of investing is making comeback, our research shows that the style has previously performed better during bond market sell-offs...
View all

Welcome to Kepler Trust Intelligence

Please enter a valid email address
{{item.msg}}
Please enter a valid password
{{item.msg}}
Please enter a valid email address
{{item.msg}}
Please check your email. If an account exists you'll be sent instructions on how to reset your password.
To ensure that we are able to provide content which is appropriate for you, please tell us a little about yourself.
Please choose an option
{{item.msg}}
Please enter a company name
{{item.msg}}
Please enter a location name
{{item.msg}}
Please choose an option
{{item.msg}}
Please enter a platform
{{item.msg}}
Please choose an option
{{item.msg}}
Please enter a trust
{{item.msg}}
?
The information contained herein is not for distribution and does not constitute an offer to sell or the solicitation of any offer to buy any securities in the United States to or for the benefit of any United States person (being residents of the United States or partnerships or corporations organised under the laws thereof). The investment funds referred to herein have not been registered in the United States under the Investment Company Act of 1940 and units or shares of such funds are not registered in the United States under the Securities Act of 1933.
Please confirm
{{item.msg}}
Please select an option
{{item.msg}}
See benefits
A free Kepler Trust Intelligence account allows you to access premium content including the ‘Kepler View’ – our verdict on the trusts we cover – and historical research so you can see how our view has changed over time. An account also unlocks useful facilities like the ‘follow’ button which lets you keep track of the trusts you’re interested in and as a logged in user you can also download PDFs of our research, and choose the layout of the page you’re reading to suit your preference. We will not share your details unless you give us permission to do so, and we won’t bombard you with emails – we only send one a week.
Please select an option
{{item.msg}}
Please enter your first name
{{item.msg}}
Please enter your last name
{{item.msg}}
Please enter a valid email address
An account already exists with this email - have you forgotten your password?
{{item.msg}}
Please enter a valid password
{{item.msg}}
Please enter a valid password
{{item.msg}}
How will this information be used? Your answers help us to tailor our content to relevant investment trusts, and to ensure that the asset allocation and portfolio strategy research we produce is appropriate to our userbase.
Our Website uses Cookies Cookies are small text files held on your computer. They allow us to give you the best browsing experience possible and mean we can understand how you use our site. Some cookies have already been set. You can delete and block cookies, but parts of our site won’t work without them. By using our website you accept our use of cookies. For further information please refer to the Kepler Privacy Notice.
Need help?

One more thing...

Did you know, you can 'follow' individual trusts on Kepler Trust Intelligence? Use the functions below to set up alerts and we'll send you research and updates on your chosen trusts.

Suggested trusts to follow

Browse all funds
Need help?
Current Site Kepler Trust Intelligence is produced by the investment companies team at Kepler Partners and is the UK’s premier source of detailed qualitative research on investment trusts. Absolute Hedge is a market leading UCITS research database providing proprietary research on funds, themes and strategies in the UCITS space. Kepler Liquid Strategies is a Dublin domiciled UCITS fund platform featuring a number of best-of-breed fund managers. Kepler Partners is a corporate advisory and asset raising boutique specialising in the regulated funds market in Europe and investment trusts in the UK.